What Goes Up……

Let me tell you…country living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Oh sure, it can be very, very bucolic.  But it can also be extremely dangerous.  The other week I noticed that one of my gutters seemed not to be draining.  (For you city folk, the gutters are the horizontal ones, the vertical ones are the leaders.  This distinction is really, really important when you’re talking to country folk. If you get it wrong, they assume you’re a moron.)  The roof of my house has a number of levels and via a Rube Goldberg series of gutter and leader combinations the water ultimately is supposed to drain from the lowest level which was where the stoppage seemed to be.

In a moment I’ve come to regret, I decided not to call a handyman to take care of the problem but instead, chose to get a ladder and try to make my way onto the roof so I could clear the presumed stoppage.   Even though the weather was blistering hot , I put on long pants and a heavy sweatshirt just in case something untoward might happen; had I had a Pillsbury Doughboy outfit available, that would have been my first choice.

My ladder was shorter than it ought to have been and I had to stand on the top rung so as to hurl myself onto the pitched roof.  While doing this I tried to position myself so that when I “fell off the ladder”, it would be my left shoulder that got dislocated;  this way I could continue to play tennis through the healing process.  But, as luck would have it, I made it onto the roof without an incident.  I carefully crawled to where I thought the stoppage was and sure enough, a bunch of twigs had created a dam preventing the water from draining.  When I cleared this I heard a loud whoosh  sound as all the water from the different levels was released.  I have to tell you…for a gutter clearer (me), there is no more wonderful sound.  Whoosh!!– a gutter clearer’s equivalent of a terrific orgasm.

But of course, the story doesn’t end here.  I now had to get down from the (pitched) roof.  Yduj held the ladder as I tried sliding down on my stomach extending a foot to feel  for the top rung.  I couldn’t feel it.  So I let myself down a little further…and this is where I found myself at the point of no return.  I had nothing to grasp to either stop my slide or to pull myself back up onto the roof. Which in retrospect is a good thing.  “Cause if I could have gotten back on the roof, I would have asked Yduj to call for some help to get me down.  More than likely this would have been the Gardiner Volunteer Fire Department.  We would have told them that our cat was stuck in a tree and then when they arrived we would have presented them with a full-grown adult stuck on a not too high roof.  Had all that happened, I’d almost certainly have to sell the house rather than put up with the snickering that would surround me each time I went to town.

But with Yduj moving the ladder around under me trying to get it in a position to receive my foot (think: Keystone Cops), I took both an existential and actual leap and let myself slide even further and to my great relief felt my toe touch the ladder.  Although shaken, I made my descent.  Ordinarily, I’d include a photo in this posting of the scene of the crime…but honestly, if you saw how high (low) this roof is you’d all be snickering every time you saw me and then…..well, you know the rest.

After I finally calmed down, I started thinking about a similar incident that had befallen me about twenty-five years ago.  I owned a bungalow in a summer community and had gone up on the roof to hook up an antenna.  When I tried to get down I ran into a problem.  My slide down towards the ladder was too steep for me.  But in that instance I was able to right myself and draped my body on the roof  while holding on to the peak.  I’d probably still be hanging there if it wasn’t for the presence of a handyman working nearby who heard my cries and helped me down.  You would think that after that incident I’d have been more circumspect about roof climbing.   But sometimes the lure of the leader gutter is just too great.

The Right Way

What Not To Do


7 Responses to “What Goes Up……”

  1. roberta berman Says:

    I thought you had more brains than that. If you can afford a summer home then you can hire someone to clean gutters

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      Roberta…I’m flattered that you thought I had more brains than that. That’s about the nicest thing anyone’s said to be all day.

      For the record: I do hire someone …but that’s in the fall. Anyway, it’s all been worked out; next time Yduj is doing the climbing.

  2. David Says:

    Just read your piece on roof climbing…..talk about gutter journalism!!

    There comes a time in one’s life where the greatest handyman skill is writing a check or handing a skilled tradesman your visa card. That time has come for me, but I guess not for you. Next thing I expect to read is that you have a job installing gutters on the roof of Freedom Tower (or whatever its called).

  3. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    Dave… hate to tell you, you’re older than I am. It’s a fact.
    As for the Freedom Tower (or whatever it’s called)–I’m only responsible for the leaders. So much easier!

  4. youknowwho Says:

    ken did the very same thing, but instead of my holding the ladder, i
    was laughing uncontrollably so i missed the part where he rolled off the roof and broke his thumb. moral: you can’t close your eyes for a second!

  5. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    I thought Ken had more brains than that! Oh wait…that’s me.

    Remind me not to ask you to hold any ladders for me.

  6. Lav Says:

    This is definitely a case of length DOES matter. Maybe a longer ladder would help next time…if there is a next time.

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